Q Magazine

Guest column - How to keep a band fresh after 30 years by James' Tim Booth

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Having released a “career-spanning” box set, The Gathering Sound just before Christmas you could be forgiven for thinking James were in a retrospective mood. However with the Manchester band heading out on a tour with Echo And The Bunnymen in April, frontman Tim Booth is focusing on keeping things fresh. Here’s his rules for doing just that.

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James started out as ignorant 16 years olds with stolen equipment. Our Manc arrogance saw us through hard times. Seven years of poverty enabled us to develop strong mental attitudes. We still write all our songs through improvisation, therefore there is no pressure on one individual to keep coming up with songs. Improvising leads to happy accidents, where ingredients clash and melt in unpredictable ways, that naturally keeps things fresh. We still feel like we are growing and are curious to see to where that will lead.

We change our set lists nightly making each gig a unique dialogue with a particular audience. In choosing a set list, I look at what we played last time we were in the same town to try and give those who come again songs they haven’t heard before. We try and get the balance in the set list between playing the hits and surprising and stretching people.

If you consider James as still being fresh, then thank you. We see ourselves in this light, but have long been aware that we generally live in a bubble of our own ignorance and self-delusion. I hope you enjoy yours….

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Tim Booth

How to keep a band fresh after 30 years, ‘the Booth way’

1.Give a fuck The too cool for school brigade are good for an album or two. But if you want to go the distance, you’ve got to be passionate about what you do.

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2. Treat every gig as if it’s your last It could well be.

3. Self-belief 4. Develop a chip on your shoulder

Believe that you are unappreciated for your divide genius and, therefore have something to prove – continuously! In our arrogance, we believe we have been neglected by the media for bands of lesser substance, but greater image, and we patiently wait for the world to see the error of its ways. Bedeck us with medals and throw garlands at our feet.

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5. Quit and come back 6. The drugs don’t work

Short term – maybe, but for staying power you need to find your own rocket fuel/oxytocin/serotonin

7. Healthy relationship with your muses Leave them out bits of food, saucers of milk etc. Be clear – we don’t write any of this shit, so be appreciative of the muses that do. All great works are done instinctively, and therefore unconsciously taping into a source that continually refreshes itself. Thank whichever natural or supernatural force you believe has allowed you to earn money doing the thing you love. For verily, we are truly blessed.

8. Don’t get too successful 9. Moisturizers

They work.

For more, including the band’s full tour dates, head to Wearejames.com.


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